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National Library of Medicine (NLM)

Monday, November 24, 2003

Robert Mehnert
Kathy Cravedi

National Library of Medicine Presents Latest Findings on High-Speed Internet Connection and its Effect on Medicine

Bethesda, Maryland — The National Library of Medicine, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), will present a program in partnership with Internet2, a consortium of universities operating advanced research networks in the United States. The venue is the 89th Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) meeting in Chicago's McCormick Place, from November 30 through December 5, 2003. The program and demonstration will take place twice daily at 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. from December 1 through 4.

The program (1) underscores the need for high performance networking in health care, (2) provides an overview of current high performance networks and their use in health care, and (3) highlights some of the many National Library of Medicine (NLM) research and development projects in health care employing these networks.

"High-speed networks offer some very important benefits for health care," says Dr. Michael Ackerman, Director of the NLM Office of High Performance Computing and Communications. "Patients often can receive more accurate diagnoses in a more convenient and timely manner because the high-speed Internet allows patient data to be quickly and confidentially shared with the proper consulting specialists located anywhere in the world."

Advanced network health care applications will be demonstrated under an arrangement between Chicago's Metropolitan Research and Education Network and McCormick Place that makes the convention center one of the few in the country with high-speed connectivity. The following projects will be demonstrated, three of which were funded by NLM:

  • Scientists at Johns Hopkins University have developed a system that uses commercially available software and low-cost PCs to allow several users to collaborate over high-speed networks in developing treatment plans for radiation therapy. The system enables doctors in rural Maryland to consult with experts at Johns Hopkins while treating their patients.

  • Scientists at the University of Kentucky have developed software tools that generate 3D images from actual CT scans. The software offers views of anatomical structures that are not possible with other imaging modalities or even by cadaver dissection and thus enables physicians to interact with the images online in real time over great distances.

  • University of Chicago scientists have developed a system that generates 3D images from 2D radiological data that can be used in surgical planning and education. They are extending the system to work with robotic surgical devices over advanced networks and are developing a means to transmit images from ambulances and other mobile locations using cell phones and other wireless technology.

  • Stanford University and University of Wisconsin scientists are developing surgical simulators enabling students to "operate" on virtual 3D patients in a way that allows them to "feel" the virtual patient as though it were a real one. Students at distant sites can also be guided through surgical procedures by a master surgeon, each sharing the surgeon's view of the patient and feeling the surgeon's movements.

For more information about the National Library of Medicine's high-speed Internet projects, visit: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/research/ngiinit.html. Located in Bethesda, Maryland, the National Library of Medicine, the world's largest library of the health sciences, is a component of the National Institutes of Health, Department of Health & Human Services.

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